And a Dog Named ‘Too’

on Dec 10, 2012 by Michael Rupured

If you’ve seen me with my little chihuahua, you know that Toodles and I have a special relationship. Views on our bond vary from “isn’t that adorable!” to “one or more of you needs professional help.” I can see both sides and will only say, it is what it is.

Photo on 4-15-12 at 6.29 PM #2

One of the more difficult decisions my ex and I had to make as we restructured our relationship was whether or not to separate the dogs. I can’t imagine how difficult the decision must be when you’re dealing with children rather than dogs. Would they be scarred for life? Require years of counseling? End up on death row in the dog pound?

We went back and forth, changing our mind every few days right up to the last minute. In the end, it was the ex’s decision to make. Getting the dogs had been his idea, the first dog anyway, and he was the one who had to decide. He was torn, and struggled to make up his mind. But come moving day, leaving his dog behind was one change too many, and he took Tico with him.

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Though saying goodbye to my sweet little Tico made me cry, I was relieved. Taking care of two dogs didn’t fit with my goal to free up time to write. And it’s not like I’ll never see him again. Besides, Tico has behaviors that don’t bother my ex a bit, but drive me to distraction. I think the ex was afraid I’d abuse Tico, and that Tico wouldn’t get the same treatment as my beloved Too.

He knows me so well…

Still, I worried about how Toodles would take being the only dog and whether or not separating them was a good idea. Tico is the alpha dog in their relationship. She’s followed his lead since she was six weeks old. Given her sensitive nature, I expected a rough transition.

Things were going fine with Toodles at the new house–until she had to kennel up for the first time. Instead of her own room like the one she shared with Tico in the old house, I put her crate in the giant walk-in closet in my bedroom. She howled and made noises I’ve never heard before for several days, making me think I should perhaps let the neighbors know that, despite what they heard, I was not torturing my chihuahua.

Toodles has never been one to go outside alone. She’s old fashioned like that. A lady never goes out without a chaperone. And when we are out, she tends to stick to me like glue, rarely venturing more than a few feet from wherever I happen to be. Like I said, we’re tight.

Because the weather has been so nice and the small yard is surrounded by a six foot tall privacy fence, I’ve been leaving the back door open. She hasn’t made it to the far corners yet, but she wanders in and out and has been exploring a little bit at a time.

Toodles is settling into her new role as the lead dog around here. She barks quite a bit more than she did with Tico around. She gives me a look when I fuss at her that says barking is her job, and I should thank her for making sure we don’t get mugged or worse, with a treat.

My next door neighbor–a single guy–has three chihuahuas. After an interesting debate on my Facebook page, the jury is still out on whether or not this automatically means he’s gay. My gaydar, as regular readers know, has never really worked.  I’ll keep you posted.

Anyway, Toodles and the tiny trio have been yapping back and forth quite a lot. It’s hard to tell which side of the fence is more upset about the existence of the other. Though outnumbered, Toodles has held her own and made it very clear that she is not afraid. This, of course, would change in a nanosecond absent the fence. The owner says his little dogs are every bit as fearful as she is, so a direct conflict is highly unlikely.

If you can believe it, Too and I are even closer now than we were before. Without the distraction of Tico or my ex, she’s completely focused on me. She still goes under one of the beds now and then, but doesn’t seem to enjoy it as much without the bed skirt. She’s a big help around the house, too. I don’t know how I would have assembled my new television stand without her help.

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She has picked up a new thing now that it’s just us. I have a tendency to spend hours at a time on the computer, working on my book, blogging, or doing something for my day job. She lays on the end of the recliner between my feet–a habit she picked up the day I got the recliner. She’ll decide once or twice a night that the computer has had enough of my time.

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When it’s her turn, she walks across the keyboard and stands in my lap with her front paws on my chest. If I’m laid back in the recliner enough, instead of standing on my lap, she sits on my chest so she can look me in the eye. She’s made it clear that “in a minute” is not an acceptable response. She’s waited long enough for her time, thank you very much.

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For the next five minutes, she rolls around on my chest while I scratch her backside, chest, belly, ears, and forehead. She rolls over, paws me, or nudges me with her nose to indicate when it’s time to focus on another body part. She never quite has her fill, but eventually, she’ll let me return to what I was doing and return to her spot between my legs.

Tico and the ex came over the other night. It’s the first play date the dogs have had at the new house. Rather than the exuberant reception I expected, the dogs chased each other around for a bit, said hello to the noncustodial parent, and then sat at the feet of his or her respective person. The message was clear. They don’t mind being separated a bit.

They did play chase me for a minute. Toodles pulled her usual trick, running under the bed so Tico can’t catch her. But I have new beds now…and they’re higher off the ground. She got the shock of her life when Tico came under the bed after her.

Having me to herself is a dream come true for Toodles. You won’t hear me complain. The two of us are very happy now that Toodles rules the roost, here in…

My Glass House